“Sometimes it surprises me, to be in this position. It seems like yesterday I was just trying to pass Physics 101,” says Sylvia Medina. It’s nothing short of a dream for CEO and President Sylvia Medina.
Medina’s company, North Wind, is a nationwide leader in environmental engineering and construction work.
But North Wind wasn’t an overnight success. Its foundation was formed on the wise words of Medina’s father when she was just a little girl.
“He would talk to me and tell me, you need to work for yourself you need to go for it. I started thinking about what my father told me and I decided maybe I should go for it and start my own business. And that’s what I did,” says Medina.
Medina slowly built up a female operated company in what’s generally considered a man’s industry.
“My first contract I got paid $15,000, but it was really $350. My profit was $5. I remember feeling happy that I made a profit,” says Medina.
North Wind boasts revenue of 50 million dollars a year, with 22 offices and over 300 employees. But to many engineers and business professionals, answering to a female CEO, who’s a distinguished environmental engineer, may seem odd. But at North Wind, it is what their company was built on.
According to employee Trina Pollman, “The environment is a little more nurturing than what I’ve experienced in a male oriented business. It’s not very recognizable but once you’re around you can determine that’s the difference.”
And John Bukowski believes, “It’s more a matter of personality and professionalism than it is gender.”
But in Medina’s opinion, she’s earned her right to be just one of the guys. “They look at me as another man but it takes two to three years to get comfortable. It can be scary and it can be intimidating. Once you’ve done it for awhile, you’re just one of the guys and that’s how they see you, as one of the guys, believe it or not.”
Medina also recognizes, its also what makes her unique. “I bring an openness to the meeting that would normally not be there,” says Medina.
And if you’re wondering what is Medina’s key to success, it all boils down to self-awareness.
“I recognize my own weaknesses. I hire good people to do the jobs I can’t,” says Medina.